Johannesburg - Coming within a whisker of upsetting the
defending champions, Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith is looking forward
to dryer playing conditions when they face central-region neighbours Griquas in
Kimberley on Friday.
It is not often a visiting coach would relish the prospect
of playing on the rock-hard pitch in Kimberley, but it will be an improvement
from the waterlogged Newlands of the past weekend.
The Cheetahs frustrated WP with a strong defensive showing
and had Rayno Benjamin not fumbled the ball before the line at the death they
would have left with the spoils.
Instead it was WP, who did most of the playing in that match
that came away with a 9-3 victory to remain unbeaten after two rounds in the
Currie Cup competition.
Smith was encouraged by his side’s performance in the
conditions where a waterlogged Newlands made for a mistake-riddled game.
“I am excited, we are building, growing, and trying to get
everything firing and a little bit of confidence would be great,” Smith said at
the team announcement in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
“Last week in difficult conditions the backs did really
well, I think we created the opportunities we would ask in a game like that and
hopefully playing in dryer conditions they’ll be even more effective.”
Free State displayed marked improvement from their 57-19
defeat to the Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein with Smith praising his charges’
determination on defence.
“Especially the way we committed on defence, basically one
metre, and we could have come away with four points,” he said.
“That was because the guys kept on working hard and kept on
constructing whereas against the Bulls the moment was too big and the score ran
away from us.
“I think game time was lacking in the first game and I
reckon the defence effort was exceptional, that was one of our objectives as
well as the breakdowns so we came out well.”
Smith has been forced to make a few injury enforced changes
with Clayton Blommetjies moving from wing to fullback, replacing AJ Coertzen,
who has picked up an ankle injury.
Sergeal Petersen moves into the right wing position to make
his Currie Cup debut for the Cheetahs.
Loose forward Boom Prinsloo suffered a broken jaw and will
be replaced by Gerhard Olivier, while Freddy Ngoza and Ruan van Rensburg are
new additions on the bench.
15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Ruhan Nel, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Michael
Van Der Spuy, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Carel
Greeff, 7 Hilton Lobberts, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jonathan
Adendorf, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 AJ Le Roux, 1 Danie Minnie
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ewald Van Der
Westhuizen, 18 Jaco Nepgen, 19 Leon Karemaker, 20 Rudi van Rooyen, 21 Clinton
Swart, 22 Jacquin Jansen
Free State Cheetahs team:
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois
Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter,
8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4
Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2
Jacques du Toit, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 Reniel
Hugo, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Ruan van Rensburg, 22 Sias Ebersohn